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…And The Balloons! July 20, 2011

Posted by littlebangtheory in Art and Nature, music, Uncategorized.
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There’s not a lot that fires the imagination like hot air balloons, great bags of gas carrying adventurers skyward to who-knows-where, drifters on a canvas of sky, silent reminders of what is elegantly possible if we dare to dream.

I had the great pleasure of seeing a number of these stately beauties take form and take flight this past weekend and, thanks to the generosity of their owners, got an insider’s view of the goings-on.

The Green River Festival started 25 years ago as a gathering of a handful of hot-air balloonists with music added to entertain those who came to watch; now it’s a music festival of regional significance with a garnish of balloons.

But for those whose fancies take flight when the wind is just right, the balloons are still The Real Deal.

Here are some shots I got of the activities this past Saturday.

There is, of course, the group shot of balloons filling the sky:

..but what really interested me was the process  of getting those things up there.  It starts with the balloons spread out on the ground, with large fans filling them enough to make room for the flames of their engines.  The owners of a few were kind enough to let me get inside for a few shots:

The balloon fills and lifts ’till most of it is off the ground:

A different balloon, but I liked the geometry of that shot.

Eventually there’s enough room for the propane engines to do their thing (and that’s my cue to exit):

The whole works tilt upward with increasing urgency:

…’till it fills taught with the expectation of flight:

Then the paying passengers get on board for a memorable evening’s traverse of the valley, and they’re off:

…soaring above the festival and leeward bound!

Thanks to all of the pilots who let me horn in on their day in the sun, and to those who stuck around for the night-time illuminations:

And thanks to you all for sharing my weekend at the Green River Music and Balloon Festival!

(That’s their faithful mascot gracing the stage canopy at closing time.)



1. Paul in ABQ - July 21, 2011

You totally need to catch the Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque some October. I’ll house you.

susan - July 21, 2011

Paul in ABQ This is Susan, Ralph’s sweetie, I want to go too!
Thanks for the invite!

2. susan - July 21, 2011

What wonderful pictures of the balloons and seeing how they get a rise out of them. Thanks for going there!

3. littlebangtheory - July 21, 2011

Paul, I’m sure I would be blown away by the Fiesta; I’m in love with the Southwest and its vistas, and adding balloons to the mix would doubtless be spectacular! Unfortunately, as long as I’m doing the job I have now, getting away in October won’t happen. I’m laid off most winters (the Holidays into early March) and have to constrict my travel to those months, and even at that, I’ve stretched my resources pretty thin this year (computer, camera, etc) so this coming winter is most likely out.

Thanks for the invitation, though; I’m going to remember that come travel time. And as you can see, my Sweetie is equally psyched about the Southwest (she’d like to move there!) so I may be “double” when I next travel – we’ll talk before then. 😉

4. Paul in ABQ - July 22, 2011

I intended, but failed to be explicit, that this includes Susan, of course. Glad she spoke up. Who knows, I may get the house in order by the year you can make it out in October. Lots to photograph in this part of the world, as you know.

5. Steve - July 22, 2011

This was a really exciting set to view – and fascinating to get more detail on the inflating process than I’ve read or seen elsewhere. I particularly like the first tall shot with the flames – beautiful as the best stained glass windows.

Thanks for sharing these!!!

6. littlebangtheory - July 22, 2011

Paul, I’m trying to cultivate patience, but it ain’t easy! 😉

Steve, that’s my favorite as well – I experience it as a compelling mix of kinetic and potential energies, and the range of tones is dramatic, evoking both danger and excitement. It’s not the kind of shot one can plan, but rather a stroke of luck for a guy who tries really hard to be there.

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